Agenda item

Annual Digital Report 2022/23


The report provided an assessment of the digital programme for the Council and highlighted where action was required to deliver improvements.


This was the fourth Annual Digital Report and the first reporting on the Digital Strategy 2022-27 agreed by Cabinet earlier this year.


The strategy was a key component of the delivery of the Council’s Corporate Plan’s aspirations for digital infrastructure, skills and services and would be an important underpin for data-driven transformation of services.


The annual report was presented to Overview and Management Scrutiny Committee on 8 September 2023 where valuable feedback and comments were received.


The Council, much like other organisations, had an increased reliance on IT systems for effective and efficient service delivery and this was highlighted further by the impact of the pandemic.


The report highlighted progress towards the outcomes of the Digital Strategy 2022-27. This was guided by important principles: innovation, data driven, user centred, inclusive, collaborative, secure and green.


The strategy had four themes, and the report outlined some key achievements:


At this point, the Leader invited Councillor Batrouni to comment on the report. Councillor Batrouni thanked the Digital Team who did a tremendous job during the pandemic by rapidly upscaling and up-skilling the digital provision. This work was continued post pandemic.


The Cabinet Member highlighted issues achieved as outlined in the report.

In the Digital Transformation theme, the website redevelopment project commenced with an implementation partner to implement Local Government Drupal. A Council “Smart Home” pilot was launched, led by Adult Services to promote the use and availability of assistive technologies for independent living as well as accessibility issues to meet the needs of residents in the 21st century.  For those who were not digitally connected, those voices were heard, and opinions taken on board, with initiatives such as free Wi-Fi in public buildings.


In the Digital Skills and Inclusion theme, the Adult Community Learning team delivered a range of fully accredited ICT and Digital Skills courses. Digital skills courses and Computers Don’t Bite were now free. All Council libraries provided free public access to internet-enabled PCs and the Council provided a free public Wi-Fi service in over 50 public buildings and on Newport buses, in partnership with Newport Transport.


With regard to data and collaboration, Newport was at the forefront of this agenda and Monmouthshire Council would be visiting Newport soon to talk about further collaboration.


Great strides made with Shared Resource Service (SRS) were highlighted, alongside the work of the Council’s Digital team and service areas in improving IT provision and the impact on service delivery.  Audit Wales acknowledged that considerable progress had been achieved by the Council in using evidence and data to inform decision-making through use of the Newport Intelligence Hub services. Information risk management arrangements were reported in the Annual Information Risk Report. Information and Cyber Security were also reported in the Corporate Risk Register which was also reported to Cabinet.


Comments of Cabinet Members:


§  Councillor Davies was pleased to see, as noted in the report, that the Ed Tech grant of £567,000 was effectively used to support learning for schools including 924 digital devices as well as projectors and digital screens. The IT strategic group formed by Karen Keane, Assistant Head of Education – Engagement and Learning, continued to function, working closely with SRS to ensure that any purchase was evidence based and informed by digital development in Education.


§  Councillor Marshall mentioned that the speed of which technology progressed was phenomenal. The annual report set out some of the ambitious work. Automation was a great tool to free up staff time and the change with mobility and hybrid technology made a difference. Residents’ ability to access more from the Council’s services was improving. Grant provision from Welsh Government to care homes for broadband for residents was also making a difference. The Smart Hub also allowed people to stay at home in the community a lot longer, which helped their confidence. This was exciting and Councillor Marshall was looking forward to the future and thanked all the officers involved.


§  Councillor Clarke referred to the reliance on IT moving forward was important and it was great to see positive progress being made. Officer involvement was invaluable and the leadership and efforts of Councillor Batrouni should be.


§  Councillor Hughes supported Councillor Marshall’s comments and referred to the transformation of Social Services provision. Newport City Council was using precise data for the long term, and this helped meet the needs of clients. 


§  The Leader also thanked the volunteers who came forward to help support with the website development. 




Cabinet endorsed the Annual Digital Report 2022-23 and proposed actions.

Supporting documents: